Police officers who shot and killed a man at a Kapolei gas station in 2019 will not be charged, following an investigation by the Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney’s Office that took almost a year and a half and concluded that officers were justified in their use of deadly force.

Prosecutor Steve Alm said Monday that officers had reason to believe that 30-year-old Michael Kahalehoe was armed and dangerous when they approached him at around 11 p.m. on Nov. 12, 2019.

Kahalehoe and Melvin Spillner, then 24, were suspects in a string of armed vehicle thefts that had occurred two days prior.

Department of the Prosecuting Attorney. Prosecutor Steve Alm discusses the HPD officer involved shooting of Michael Kahalehoe at 577 Farrington Highway, Shell Station.
Prosecutor Steve Alm points to a diagram of the scene where Michael Kahalehoe was killed. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

The alleged thefts included a blue 2017 Subaru WRX which, according to the investigation report, had been stolen at gunpoint the morning of Nov. 10, and which Kahalehoe was driving when he and Spillner pulled into the gas station. 

The officers had learned they were in the Makakilo area and were spotted at the Shell station, Alm said at a press conference. 

With this information, plainclothes Honolulu Police Department officers from various crime reduction units converged on the Shell station in unmarked police vehicles. CRU officers don’t wear body cameras, but overhead footage from the gas station shows their unmarked vehicles pulling into the station.

Spillner, who was outside the Subaru pumping gas, removed the nozzle and tried to run away when he noticed the vehicles but was caught within a few seconds by the officers. 

Kahalehoe, still in the driver’s seat, moved the Subaru quickly back and forth, sideswiping a police vehicle as he appeared to try to snake through the impromptu barricade. According to the report, officers believed they saw Kahalehoe reach down under the steering wheel, where they thought he might have a gun.

Kahalehoe drove the Subaru in a circular direction to the right, an area not captured by the Shell station’s surveillance footage but which the report says was towards three officers, prompting another officer to shoot at Kahalehoe through the back window. Two other officers joined, with one of them believing they saw Kahalehoe reach for a gun, according to the report.

Altogether, Kahalehoe was struck by 12 bullets, and was pronounced dead at 11:04 p.m.

Attorney Eric Seitz filed a lawsuit last year on behalf of the family of Kahalehoe, the crux of which claimed that officers’ use of deadly force wasn’t appropriate given the circumstances.

“Perhaps there is not enough to justify a successful criminal prosecution, but Alms’ report and conclusions actually support our civil claims,” Seitz wrote in an email.

The lawsuit also claims that officers had not adequately identified themselves before shooting.

“The officers involved were all wearing protective vests with the word ‘police’ prominently displayed,” said Alm. “The lighting was good, it was very clear these were police officers doing it. Multiple officers identified themselves as police and made numerous attempts to get Mr. Kahalehoe to stop the car, turn off the ignition, and get out of the vehicle.”

According to the report, civilian witnesses heard the officers yelling to get on the ground, along with gunshots. The surveillance video has no audio component, and the shooting takes place off-camera.

Read the full report below:

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